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Patterns & Symmetries – igloo 14/11/2017, 22)14


Patterns & Symmetries

1 mai 2017 We are taking a tour inside the palace of Alhambra – inside an original,
special vision of Alhambra, as reflected by Margarida Sardinha, who
documented this amazing piece of architecture and, then, turned it into a
Words: Ioana completely new visual story. Page 1 of 15
Patterns & Symmetries – igloo 14/11/2017, 22)14

Artist: Margarida


As we take a look at the compositions of this series, created in 2014 and

entitled Symmetry’s Portal, we find ourselves in a kind of an Inception
case, completely submerged into a subjective story and witnessing a
different kind of architectural vision – that of the artist’s mind, reshaping the
physical world of the palace, rebuilding various spaces and reassigning
them with new dimensions.

The Symmetry’s Portal expands, geometrically, a wide photographic

survey of the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain, palace that represents
one of the landmarks of Islamic pattern design in Europe, and the
photographic assemblage is used by Margarida to address issues of
symmetry and to generate illusory semblances.

Why Alhambra?

„In symmetry, there are only 17 regular ways of dividing a two-dimensional

plane into regular tessellations, and these can be all found in the floors,
walls and ceilings of the Alhambra. It is extremely rare to find all these types
of symmetries all in the same place – only some Egyptian temples also
display such knowledge. When I went to the Alhambra I was on the lookout
for these different types of symmetries and as I photographed the place I
was able to find and understand them” the artist explains. Page 2 of 15
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“Beauty is rather a light that plays over the symmetry of


than that symmetry itself.”


And so, this series of large scale prints has got its own game of lights, given
by a certain sense of dynamics that is present in all the works included, as
well as by a detail – a shape that completes the two-dimensional image,
as there’s always either a cylinder or a pyramid or a polyhedron on the
generous surface of each print, taking the patterned story into three-

The series comprises 30 works, each of 150x94x35 cm, and an

experimental 3D movie of 25 minutes that were, all, produced at the
artist’s studio. The backgrounds of the 30 works are printed on vinyl; the
polyhedral shapes attached to them are printed on photographic paper and
then assembled by Margarida and, then, each ensemble is enclosed in
a plexiglas box. Page 3 of 15
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“The Symmetry’s Portal is a body of work of optical illusions, where the

symmetric and random are diluted into three-dimensional works originated
from two-dimensional planes, Margarida adds. Hence, symmetry’s isometric
is deconstructed or complemented by three-dimensional polyhedra where
the image’s similitude evokes various illusory spatiotemporal dimensions.”

„Where the cancelling-out of the respective mind effected differentiations Page 4 of 15
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results in a non-polarised symbolic continuum. This symbolic continuum is

not static for it is a flux of consciousness that albeit relative to each
individual it is absolute in essence – a paradox in itself that implies the self –
referential framework of the individual and his/hers correlation with absolute
or innate forms. Thus, they refer to individual spatiotemporal events in the
fabric of nature where immanence and transcendence are undifferentiated.”


Geometry as Metaphor
All the thirty works and the film Symmetry’s Portal, that form the exhibition,
were devised based on the geometric-mathematical descriptions of Keith
Critchlow and Marcus du Sautoy (1) where the study of Islamic patterns is
analysed via metaphysical and cosmological principles.

“Islamic spirituality had to develop a sacred art in accordance with its own
form and revealed message and also its essence, says Margarida Sardinha.
The doctrine of unity, which is central to the Islamic revelation coinciding
with a nomadic spirituality that Islam made its own, has brought to light an
aniconic art where the spiritual world is not reflected in the sensible world
through various iconic images, but through geometry and rhythm,
arabesques and calligraphy that directly reflect the celestial worlds and,
finally, the supernal sun of Divine Unity.

Basically, geometric patterns make up one of the three nonfigurative types Page 5 of 15
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of decoration in Islamic art, besides calligraphy and vegetal patterns.

These abstract designs not only adorn the surfaces of monumental Islamic
architecture but also function as the major decorative element on a vast
array of objects of all types. Islamic artists appropriated key elements from
the classical tradition, then complicated and elaborated upon them in order
to invent a new form of decoration that stressed the importance of unity and

The significant intellectual contributions of Islamic mathematicians,

astronomers, and scientists were essential to the creation of this unique
new style.

Consisting of, or generated from, such simple forms as the circle and the
square, the designs may be overlapped and interlaced, as can arabesques
(with which they are often combined), to form intricate and complex
patterns, including a wide variety of tessellations, thus becoming one of the
most distinguishing features of Islamic art. Page 6 of 15
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However, these complex patterns seem to embody a refusal to adhere

strictly to the rules of geometry. These may constitute the entire decoration,
may form a framework for floral or calligraphic embellishments, or may
retreat into the background around other motifs.

The complexity and variety of patterns used evolved from simple stars and
lozenges in the ninth century, through a variety of 6- to 13-point patterns by
the 13th century, and finally to include also 14- and 16-point stars in the
sixteenth century. Page 7 of 15
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Geometry as Portal
„There is within the Islamic spiritual universe a dimension that can be called
Abrahamic Pythagoreanism, or the prospect of seeing numbers and figures
as keys to the structure of the cosmos and as symbols of the archetypal
world, and also in how the world is conceived as the God’s creation in the
sense of Abrahamic monotheisms” Margarida explains. Page 8 of 15
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It is this possibility within the Islamic intellectual universe, with none or very
little outside influences, that allowed Islam to develop a similar
mathematical philosophy to the Platonic-Pythagorean tradition of antiquity
but with a totally sacred characteristic.

<<Know oh brother … the study of sensible geometry evokes skill in all

practical arts, while the study of intelligible geometry evokes skill in the
intellectual arts because this science is one of the portals through which we
move towards the knowledge of the essence of the soul, and this is the root
of all knowledge…>> – Rasa’il Brotherhood of Purity, translated by S.H.
Nasr. Page 9 of 15
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It is also this innate element of Islam’s structure that allowed the creation of
a sacred art of an essentially geometric nature, and natural sciences that
sought to penetrate into the very structure of physical existence, not by
penetrating through the molecule and the atom, but by ascending to the
world of mathematical archetypes to uncover the key structures that are
reflected in the heart of matter.

Islamic art is essentially a way to ennoble geometrically matter united by

calligraphic forms that incorporate the word of God as revealed in the book,
the Holy Qur’an.” Page 10 of 15
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It might be in these statements that we find why this particular, geometrical

approach seems so actual, even if designed several hundreds of years ago,
as these forms are, themselves, „the bridge linking the periphery to the
centre, the relative to the Absolute, the finite to the infinite, from multiplicity
to unity”.


Symmetry’s Portal was presented as solo exhibition at the Aga Khan

Foundation’s Ismaili Centre, in Lisbon, and at the Ericeira Cultural Centre,

Limited editions based on the show were later exhibited at London’s Opera Page 11 of 15
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Gallery in November 2015 as part of the Reflections group exhibition

curated by Neil McConnon. Eight of the print works, as well as the film
Symmetry’s Portal, were also exhibited until the 1st of July, 2016, at the
Carousel Gallery in London. Also, Helder Alfaiate art gallery of Ericeira
hosts some of her works.


Short Profile of the Artist

Margarida Sardinha is an independent artist & director born in Lisbon in
1978, who studied, lived and worked in London for ten years. She attended
Fine Art Combined Media studies at Central Saint Martins College of Art
and at Chelsea College of Art and Design.

Margarida Sardinha is the director of several experimental films, such

as Hyperbolic Hyparxis (2015), Master Mercy Matrix (2013), London
Memory multi+city (2013) and HyperLightness ad absurdum (2011), all
of them winners of several awards of various international film festivals.

She has also exhibited her site-specific installation work both in museums,
galleries and biennales in London, Lisbon and New York, the most
important being the solo show Darkness Reflexions at the Fernando
Pessoa Museum, comprising three site-specific installations As Above, so
Below…, The Gods Have Not Died…, Darkness
Reflexions and Darkness Reflexions Sketchbook, an 80 page exhibition Page 12 of 15
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catalogue. Other works selected include her presence at the Pan-

Demonium at AC Institute, at the Red Bull Music Academy Showcase or the
Bienal Jovens Valoures 2009 at Galeria Vieira da Silva.

Margarida was also one of the founders of the London based

group pARTart and the curator of the group’s exhibition London
Recycled at the Menier Chocolate Factory comprising 22 new works by the
London based artists from ten diverse artistic discipline’s backgrounds and
eleven different nationalities exploring London’s multiculturalism and
multidisciplinary pluralism; through the show and its collateral promotional
and fundraising events where she performed Vj-ing at several London’s
East End venues along with the performances of invited emerging music
bands and other members of the group live pieces, she created over one
year the necessary conditions for these artists to produce new work re-
accessing their respective individual cyclic experience of London’s living
making it a collective mirror of the city arts scenery.

She won the Prize of Jovens Criadores (Young Creators Prize) awarded
by the Portuguese Cultural Ministry and the Grupo Artes e Ideias in 1999.




Notes: Page 13 of 15
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(1) Artist, lecturer, author, and professor of architecture in England, Keith

Critchlow is especially known for books as „Islamic Patterns: An Analytical
and Cosmological Approach” or „Islamic Art and Architecture: System of
Geometric Design”.

Marcus Peter Francis du Sautoy, Simonyi Professor for the Public

Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University
of Oxford, is known for his work popularising mathematics. He has also
written numerous academic articles and books on mathematics, the most
recent being The Num8er My5teries. He is also on the advisory board of – an online maths game website. One of his famous quotes
goes that „actually a code is a language for translating one thing into
another. And mathematics is the language of science. My big thesis is that
although the world looks messy and chaotic, if you translate it into the world
of numbers and shapes, patterns emerge and you start to understand why
things are the way they are.”

#3-d #abstract #Alhambra #art #color

#contemporary #exhibition #experimental

#experimental film #Ioana Păunescu #MargaridaSardinha

#pattern #symmetry #Symmetry's Portal #vision Page 14 of 15

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